Dave Clawson, Sam Hartman, and the rest of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons travel to Chestnut Hill on Saturday looking to clinch their division in the ACC for just the 2nd time in school history, and the first time since 2006. The Boston College Eagles stand in their way, as a loss to BC would send either NC State or Clemson to the ACC Championship instead.
Wake has an impressive offense this year that is also a bit unique. Here’s what BC is in for on Saturday afternoon:
Scheme - the Slow Mesh
First off, we have to talk about Wake Forest’s unique offensive scheme. The Demon Deacons employ a scheme called the Slow Mesh, which is an RPO-based system in which the offensive line sets-up for run-blocking on most plays, but the QB can take his “option” to keep the ball and throw it to a receiver. This process often takes more time than a typical offense to develop in the backfield, which is why it is called the Slow Mesh.
You can watch some of Wake Forest on offense here, in the condensed version of their recent game against Clemson. As you can see from the video, this Slow Mesh is only relevant on downs that could be either a run or a pass. The Wake QB can simply drop back into the pocket at any time on a 3rd-and-long or in similar situations. But for pretty much any other down, you see him with an extended RPO handoff to the RB. This can be a problem for teams that struggle to break into the backfield quickly, which is true for Boston College’s relatively weak defensive line.
Sophomore Sam Hartman is Wake Forest’s starting QB, and he’s had an incredible season. He’s thrown for more than 250 yards in each of his last 9 games, and has thrown for 300+ in 6 of his last 7. His TD-INT ratio is 31-9. His offense has put up at least 35 points in 10 of 11 contests this year, with the only exception being a 27-point performance against the stout Clemson D last week. And he usually adds on a rushing performance of at least 30 yards to boot.
In short, Wake has had a magical run with Hartman under center in 2021. Expect that to continue against Boston College.
Ever heard of the term “running back by committee” (RBBC)? That’s essentially what this Wake Forest backfield is. There is no true lead back, as 3 different RBs have all run for 70+ yards in at least one game. Christian Beal-Smith is Wake’s leading rusher with 533 yards on the season, but he’s been hurt for the past few weeks and is questionable to play against Boston College. Other RBs Justice Ellison and Christian Turner have each run for 477 and 378 yards this season, respectively. But not even any of them led the team in yards and carries last week, as that honor went to RB Quinton Cooley in his first game in almost a month. So there’s plenty of talent to go around in this backfield, and impossible to predict who is going to try to use it.
A.T. Perry and Jaquarii Roberson are the Demon Deacons’ two star WRs. Perry already has over 1,000 yards on the season and Roberson isn’t far behind. They’ve combined for 10 100+ yard games and, amazingly, both of these players had 100+ yard games on the same day against both Army and Syracuse. That’s some serious firepower. Beyond that, Wake still has a decent receiving corps that could threaten any ACC defense, but it’s these 2 that BC fans will hope get neutralized in some way.